Independence Day of Ukraine

Independence Day of Ukraine (Ukrainian: День незалежності України) is the main state holiday in modern Ukraine,[nb 1] celebrated on 24 August[3] in commemoration of the Declaration of Independence of 1991.[4]

Independence Day
День незалежності
Ukrainian Independence Day in Luhansk.jpg
2013 celebration in Luhansk. It was the last celebration in Luhansk before the start of the War in Donbass in 2014.
Observed by Ukraine
SignificanceThe day the Declaration of Independence was proclaimed by the Verkhovna Rada in 1991
CelebrationsConcerts,[1] parades, military parade
Date24 August


When Ukraine was still a Soviet republic, the Ukrainian diaspora traditionally recognized 22 January (the Declaration of Independence of the Ukrainian People's Republic in 1918) as Ukrainian Independence day.[5]

The current form of the holiday was first celebrated on 16 July 1991, as the first anniversary of the Declaration of State Sovereignty of Ukraine passed by the Verkhovna Rada (Ukraine's parliament) in 1990.[4][6] Since the Declaration of Independence was issued on 24 August 1991, and confirmed by the referendum of 1 December 1991, the date of the holiday was changed.[7] (In December 1991 many Ukrainian Canadians expected that 1 December would become Ukraine's official independence day.)[8]


National Flag DayEdit

Beginning in 2004, 23 August is celebrated as National Flag Day.[9]


Generally (but not every year) independence day is celebrated with a military parade held in Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine.[10][11] Since 2019 no military parade has taken place.[12][11] According to a 21 October 2020 decree by President Volodymyr Zelensky in 2021 a military parade will be held (again) on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of Ukraine's Independence.[13]

Recent and historical celebrationsEdit

Ukrainian Independence Day celebrations in Toronto, Canada


The Chayka Aviation Parade was a large-scale aviation show dedicated to Independence Day that took place at Kyiv Chaika Airfield in 1997. It featured flypasts by personnel of the Ukrainian Air Force. The parade was attended by President of Ukraine Leonid Kuchma and Minister of Defense Oleksandr Kuzmuk.[14]


After the annual military parade in Kyiv the "March of the Unconquered" was held by active members of Ukraine's volunteer battalions, relatives of those killed during the fighting in the war in Donbas and family members of those killed during the Euromaidan uprising – known in Ukraine as the "Heavenly Hundred".[15] According to the Ukrainian army the volume of artillery fire set off by the separatist forces of the war in Donbas during the 24-hour period of 24 August 2016 was the highest since the February 2015 Battle of Debaltseve.[16][17]

Several Ukrainian cities held marches of people dressed in vyshyvanky (shirts with traditional Ukrainian embroidery).[18]


The March of Defenders during independence day 2019, featuring the UPA battle flag.

On 10 July 2019, President Volodymyr Zelensky announced on Facebook that the 2019 Ukrainian Independence Day celebrations will not include a military parade (for the first time since the parade's cancellation from 2010 to 2014) stating the following: "We have decided to allocate 300 mln hryvnias [nearly $12 mln] as bonus payments to our servicemen, i.e. fixed-term soldiers, cadets, sergeants, officers.”[11] Zelensky also mentioned that the government would take steps to "honor heroes" on Independence Day by highlighting the fact that the "format will be new".[19] On 30 July, Zelensky's Head of the Presidential Administration Andriy Bohdan announced that a March of Dignity (Марш гідності) will take place in replacement of the annual parade.[20][21] A separate march, known as the March of Defenders (Марш захисників) was also planned to be held by Ukrainian war veterans.[22] The ceremony went on as planned and even incorporated elements of the annual parade such as the flag raising ceremony and the awarding of veterans.[23][24] During his speech, Zelensky called for unity, saying "Ukrainian-speaking and Russian-speaking, regardless of age, gender, religion – we must be one people".[25]


Protestors demanding the release of war in Donbas veterans that were arrested in December 2019[26] on the suspicion of killing journalist Pavel Sheremet during the 2020 March of Defenders

On Independence Day in 2020, President Zelensky during his speech proclaimed that there would never be military equipment on parade in Kyiv as long as the war in Donbas is ongoing, during which he said that it is "Where it is needed now."[12] Zelensky stated that military parades would be held in the future "a parade of Ukrainian victory, when we will return all our people and all our territories."[12] The ceremony, as well as the concert that followed, was held in Mykhailivska Square in front of St. Michael's Golden-Domed Monastery, the current seat of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, and thus also honored the Ukrainian medical workers and professionals who had contributed their efforts during the current COVID-19 pandemic in all of Ukraine.

The joint concert of Ukrainian stars following the ceremony was marked by scandal because various artists performing in it had continued to perform and/or accept awards in Russia, despite the Ukrainian Autonomous Republic of Crimea being annexed by Russia in 2014 and the alleged support of Russia for the separatist forces of the war in Donbas.[27][28] It was also condemned that this concert took place during the March of Defenders (Марш захисників) commemorating the victims of the war in Donbas.[27]

In an English language Independence Day address, Zelensky launched an information campaign to restart the Ukraine NOW brand.[29] The 2020 events served as a national kick-off to the celebrations in 2021 marking the pearl jubilee year of independence.


In 2021, Ukraine celebrated the 30th anniversary of its independence with three days of events. A company from Lviv developed a special 30th Anniversary logo and a new award known as the "National Legend" was announced, to be presented in a ceremony on August 22.[30] It was also announced that the first Summit of the Crimean Platform would take place on August 23.[30] A number of foreign leaders were invited to the 30th anniversary celebrations, including US president Joe Biden,[31] Greek president Katerina Sakellaropoulou,[32][33] Lithuanian president Gitanas Nauseda[34] and Moldovan president Maia Sandu.[35][36]

On 24 August a large military parade made its way through Kyiv past Maidan Nezalezhnosti, featuring Ukrainian Ground Forces, Special Operations Forces, and visiting units from several foreign armed forces. The parade included more than 5000 troops and 400 tanks and armoured vehicles. The event also included a fly-by of Ukrainian Air Force units over Kyiv. Simultaneously, Ukrainian Navy units were shown carrying out exercises at Odessa.[37] Visiting troops from Slovenia, Moldova, Poland, the United States of America and Canada marched with Ukrainian forces,[38] and two British Royal Air Force Eurofighter Typhoons took part in the fly-by alongside four F-16 Fighting Falcons.

Delegates from 46 countries attended, including Polish President Andrzej Duda, Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda and French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian,[38] and Eastern Orthodox Church patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople.

Immediately prior to the parade, President Zelensky addressed the crowd, calling for closer relationships with other ex-Soviet countries, European nations, and NATO.[37]


  1. ^ In July 2013 in a poll by Razumkov Centre 61% considered Independence Day a holiday, 30.4% “not a holiday, but an ordinary day off” and 6.1% agreed to “this should be a working day”.[2]


  1. ^ (in Russian) Kharkov Ukraine celebrates Independence Day (photos, program of measures), SQ (24 August 2016)
  2. ^ Poll: Independence Day a holiday for more than 60% of Ukrainians, Interfax-Ukraine (21 August 2013)
  3. ^ How Ukraine Became a Market Economy and Democracy by Anders Åslund, Peterson Institute for International Economics, 2009, ISBN 978-0-88132-427-3 (page 185)
  4. ^ a b A History of Ukraine: The Land and Its Peoples by Paul Robert Magocsi, University of Toronto Press, 2010, ISBN 1442610212 (page 722/723)
  5. ^ "Washington State Marks Independence for the First Time" (PDF). Svoboda. The Ukrainian Daily. LXXX (40). Jersey City: Ukrainian National Association. 3 March 1973. p. 4. ISSN 0274-6964. LCCN 80012518. OCLC 01766932.
  6. ^ Citizens of Ukraine mark 1 year of state sovereignty, The Ukrainian Weekly (21 July 1991)
  7. ^ Ukraine Intelligence & Security Activities and Operations Handbook, International Business Publications, 2009, ISBN 0739716611 (page 268)
  8. ^ Canada second to recognize Ukraine; establishing ties should go smoothly, The Ukrainian Weekly (8 December 1991)
  9. ^ Ukraine celebrates National Flag Day Archived 7 October 2013 at the Wayback Machine, Xinhua News Agency (23 August 2012)
    Ceremony of hoisting Ukraine's national flag held at presidential administration, Kyiv Post (23 August 2011)
  10. ^ Theoretical and Comparative Perspectives on Nationalism by Taras Kuzio, ibidem Press, 2007, ISBN 3898218155 (352)
    Language Policy and Discourse on Languages in Ukraine Under President Viktor Yanukovych by Michael Moser, ibidem Press, 2013, ISBN 3838204972 (page 102)
    Ukraine military parade marks 25 years of independence, BBC News (24 August 2016)
  11. ^ a b c "Ukrainian president signs decree on Independence Day celebrations". Ukrinform. 15 July 2019.
    "Bonuses instead of parade: Ukraine's leader takes surprising decision". Belsat TV. 10 July 2019.
  12. ^ a b c (in Ukrainian) Zelensky told when there will be a military parade in Ukraine, Ukrayinska Pravda (24 August 2020)
  13. ^ (in Ukrainian) Zelensky planned a military parade on the 30th anniversary of Independence, Ukrayinska Pravda (21 October 2020)
  14. ^ Авиация и Время. — Вересень 1997. — с.30
  15. ^ (in Ukrainian) Разом з військовим парадом у Києві влаштували "Марш нескорених" (The "March of the Unconquered" was Held along with the Military Parade in Kyiv), Ukrayinska Pravda (24 August 2016)
  16. ^ Heaviest fire since Debaltseve battle recorded yesterday, 3 WIA, UNIAN (25 August 2016)
  17. ^ Russian proxies intensify attacks on ATO forces on Independence Day, UNIAN (25 August 2016)
  18. ^ (in Ukrainian) Ukrainians at home and abroad celebrated Independence Day, Ukrayinska Pravda (24 August 2015)
  19. ^ "Zelensky cancels Independence Day parade on August 24 citing costs". TASS.
  20. ^ "Walk of Dignity in honor of Independence Day will take place in Kyiv - Andriy Bohdan".
  21. ^ [1][dead link]
  22. ^ "Donbas war veterans will hold own march in downtown Kyiv on Independence Day".
  23. ^ "Thousands attend unofficial Independence Day march in Ukraine". 24 August 2019.
  24. ^ "UNIAN: Zelensky takes part in festivities on Ukraine's Independence Day". 24 August 2019.
  25. ^ "Speech by the President of Ukraine during the Independence Day festivities".
  26. ^ They do not believe it! Reaction of people to detention of suspects in Sheremet's murder case, 112 Ukraine (13 December 2019)
    (in Ukrainian) A print on clothing, a sacred sacrifice and a cameraman's backpack: what evidence did police show in Sheremet's case?, (15 December 2019)
  27. ^ a b (in Ukrainian) Independence Day 2020: Zelensky's speech, "Slippers" and Defenders' March, Radio Free Europe (24 August 2020)
  28. ^ Ukraine conflict: Deadly flare-up on eastern front line, BBC News (18 February 2020)
  29. ^ "Volodymyr Zelenskyy restarts the Ukraine NOW brand".
  30. ^ a b "Festivities dedicated to the 30th anniversary of Ukraine's independence will last for 3 days – Volodymyr Zelenskyy". Official website of the President of Ukraine. Retrieved 21 May 2021.
  31. ^ "Офис Зеленского планирует пригласить Байдена на 30-летие Независимости". Retrieved 19 March 2021.
  32. ^ "Зеленский пригласил президента Греции на 30-летие независимости Украины – Последние новости сегодня". Retrieved 19 March 2021.
  33. ^ "Зеленский пригласил президента Греции на празднование 30-летия независимости Украины". Интерфакс-Украина (in Russian). Retrieved 19 March 2021.
  34. ^ "Зеленский пригласил президента Литвы на 30-летие независимости Украины – Последние новости сегодня". Retrieved 19 March 2021.
  35. ^ "Зеленский пригласил Санду на празднование 30-летия Независимости Украины". Retrieved 19 March 2021.
  36. ^ "Зеленский пригласил Санду на 30-летие независимости Украины". (in Russian). Retrieved 19 March 2021.
  37. ^ a b Ukraine celebrates 30th independence anniversary with military parade, Euronews (24 August 2021)
  38. ^ a b Ukraine marches with NATO allies on 30th independence anniversary, France24 (24 August 2021)

External linksEdit